Vox has all the basics, but falters on innovation

By Shawna Muckle

Jesuit High School (Portland, Oregon)

Upon opening Vox’s homepage, each visitor is immediately confronted with an expansive array of headlines and accompanying images, all clinically transcribed in Vox’s iconic blockish font and outlined in a vivid monochrome yellow. Much is left to the reader’s discretion in terms of which of the “Top Stories” they want to pursue further.

Scrolling down on the front page, the articles are presented in a three column-formation. The headlines and pictures in the middle occupy a unique amount of horizontal space, while the articles on either side column occupy quaint little boxes. While this presentation allows the site to showcase major articles in the upper middle column with relative success, smaller articles in the middle tend to look distorted and incongruous with their fellow small articles in the side columns.

After the first portion of the page, a row of advertisements awkwardly separates the first organizational style from a new, far more scattered and unnavigable portion of the home page. In this lower section, the remaining featured articles descend the page in a uniform column on the left side, resembling a litany more than an intriguing spectrum of stories. On the right side, advertisements are interspersed with articles, making the entire layout confusing and seemingly arbitrary in terms of placement.

Redeeming the somewhat disastrous front page, however, is the precisely organized navigation bar. Spanning the entire length of the page and situated at the very top, the navigation bar boasts 13 separate tabs, each leading to articles pertaining to different subjects, segments, and projects created by Vox. Each tab is neatly separated and organized, with a drop-down bar for about half of the tabs, ensuring each subsection doesn’t appear cramped and supplying visitors with a host of appealing options.

Impressively, the navigation bar also includes eye-catching links to all of Vox’s various social media platforms, which span a variety of mediums (YouTube, Twitter, Facebook), all continually updated with recent content. By making their social media presence so accessible for online readers, Vox caters to a younger, technologically immersed reading base, and in doing so, bolsters its potential for future relevance.

While all these features successfully appeal to a generation increasingly enamored with the ability to customize its information feed and more choices in visual formats, the Vox website still noticeably lacks any serious efforts to incorporate bold, paradigm-bursting innovation.

Sites for outlets such as CNN and The New York Times have begun to expand to 360-degree video immersions, granting users access to a cutting-edge form of virtual reality technology. Sources like Politico have capitalized upon public interest in short, consumable videos and host live question and answer sessions to convey information in the most concise, comprehensible manner possible to the public.

Vox has figured out how to expand its presence online and offer its reader’s options, but it still overwhelmingly sticks with long-form, explanatory or opinion articles, catering to a niche demographic who is willing to wade through a piece to its conclusion.

If one scrolls down the length an entire page, they find virtually nothing but an extensive list of articles upon articles, save a few videos. For those looking for a neatly organized feed that offers a high volume of traditional, thorough news reports, Vox makes a perfectly palatable online option. For those looking for more variety and ingenuity in how the news is created and presented, however, Vox undeniably fails on most counts.

This story was produced by student reporters as part of the WANT Summer Journalism Fellowship, an annual collaboration among aspiring young journalists. For more information, go to YouthJournalismPdx.com.

Photo Credit: VOX

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